simple food

So I have a confession to make…

But it is not really a confession. More like a realisation. A sad and rather disheartening discovery of self, if you may. Okay, here it is:

Chef Anisa is not really a Chef.

Allow me to elaborate, in pictorial evidence. The following are “Chef” Anisa’s recent creations: a Mediterranean brunch featuring shakshuka and cannellini-bean dip, a vegan smoothie bowl (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) and a vegetarian lasagna.

Do you SEE what I’m sayin’? I don’t know how to cook. I just know how to cook three/four meals, anew.

Ah, the shame. The utter downright ignominy of it all. I’m Persian for goodness sake. Where is the saffron? The pistachio nuts, the glistening fried barberries atop the fragrant jasmine rice and the mint fried onions swimming in my ASH*?

New Year’s resolution TWO: cook new stuff.

*Ash is an traditional Persian soup. It is green and chunky and full of the good stuff: legumes, meat, noodles, herbs and spice.

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Post holiday diet

I have a love/hate relationship with Japan. Love because it’s a fascinating country and hate because it’s so darn difficult finding health-foods (and fookin expensive when you do!) For example, there are NO, seriously ZERO “healthy” options sold at the highway service areas. No fruit, no salad, no raw nuts/bars, just more instant additive-laden soup and noodles and white-rice rice balls and sweets, so many sweets with cream and anko (red bean paste).

The ‘sister visit’ was unforgettable but now, it’s time to once again, healthify my life especially seeing as it’s nearly the New Year and all.

Yeah yeah we’ll see how long I can keep this up for ;)

First: mixed seed crackers from The Breadman Organic Bakery (Christchurch), homemade ricotta, cucumber, avocado, raw walnuts and tomato.

Second: 1 banana, 1/2 cup unsweetened So Good almond milk, handful of freeze-dried blackcurrants blended together and topped with homemade granola, pomegranate seeds and silvered almonds.

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The best smoothie bowl in a long time.

I was so blessed to receive an ample supply of ViBERi blackcurrant products (all organic) from my auntie and uncle in NZ, as souvenirs via my brother-in-law and sister and this morning I whizzed some into the best smoothie bowl in a long time. SO MUCH GOODNESS.

1/2 cup freeze-dried (or frozen) blackcurrants
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup plain yoghurt (use coyo if dairy free or vegan)
1 frozen banana

Simply whizz all ingredients in a food-processor or blender and top with desired toppings. I used organic kiwifruit, homemade granola and more freeze-dried blackcurrants which are crunchy and delicious!
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Vegetable Lasagna

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250g wholemeal lasagna sheets
2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 capsicum (any colour)
1 punnet of white button mushrooms
2 small eggplants
handful of fresh spinach
small broccoli head
(all veggies chopped medium to small)
400g can all-natural diced tomatoes
4 tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
750g smooth ricotta cheese
3 free-range eggs
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Vegetable sauce:
Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.

Add capsicum, mushroom, eggplant, spinach and broccoli, cover and cook gently for 5 minutes.

Add canned tomatoes and tomato paste, cook for 3 minutes, season with salt and pepper.

Ricotta:
Mix ricotta, eggs and basil, season with salt and pepper

Assembly: 
Preheat oven to 180C

Pour 1/2 cup of vegetables sauce into a lightly greased baking dish then alternate layers of lasagna, vegetable sauce and ricotta, ending with ricotta layer (allow for 4 layers).

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for 45 minutes (25 if using white lasagna sheets).

Let stand for  5 minutes before serving.

TIP: the trick to delicious lasagna is AMPLE SAUCE and that the lasagna sheets, are completely covered with/in it. So for extra yum-factor, make sure your lasagna retains a high level of moisture.

Three Food Bloggers I Wish Were My Friends

There are gazillions of foodies on the internet but frankly, 99% are the same. Seriously, if I see another excessively decorated nana ice-cream or ridiculously high and overly sauced buckwheat pancake stack, I’m going to debeak a chicken myself. GASP (oh no she didn’t).

However; I absolutely adore the following three women – even though I’ve never actually met them. Alas, thanks to the power of the internet, they have become my inspiration. Of course, they don’t need the publicity, especially from an amateur-blogger like me (I’m not fishing I swear) but for a while now, I’ve been meaning to dedicate a post to them, so here it is:

Eleanor Ozich of Petite Kitchen
Fellow Kiwis, we’re SO blessed to have this lady in our homeland. Based in Auckland, Eleanor’s focus is on simple wholefood recipes. Recipes which are often naturally free of gluten, dairy and refined-sugar. But not always. For she has something delicious for every palette. ‘Simple’ is the word Eleanor uses again and again which is undoubtedly, what makes her blog so popular. I wish Eleanor were my friend so I could play with her two (and one on the way) absolutely adorable curly-blonde-haired children, trade dresses with (both she and her style are gorgeous) and be able to join in on (and thus eat at) her warm and cosy picnics and dinners.

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Heidi of Apples Under My Bed
Heidi is a Melbourne-based recognised and practising dietician. Her blog is her diary about food, travel, cooking and life as we know it. Heidi’s approach is real and honest. I love her posts. I love her recipes and I love her newly born daughter. Joan is so tiny but her eyes so big. I am truly gaga over her. If I could only use two words to describe Apples Under My Bed, they’d be cozy and comfort. I wish Heidi were my friend so I could wrap up in her blankets and eat her delicious home cooked talent. Oh and borrow (and forget to return) her vintage spoons and cloth napkins.

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Siri Barje aka Olive Hummer 
Siri is a trained chef at the Grythyttans Restaurant School. Sometimes she lives in Dubai and others in Stockholm. Her blog is about “real food. No damn diets, detox or bad conscience juices.” Siri says “breakfast is important. Eat pasta. Do not forget lunch.” I LOVE HER. Her recipes are bold, colourful and unfailingly flavoursome and so is she herself! Her posts are always so entertaining. Her personality is SO great! I wish Siri were my friend so I could stroke her luscious hair (seriously it’s insane), eat her delicious creations (well, duh) and engage in long, meaningful and humor-filled conversations. Puss (kiss in Swedish).

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my smoothie brings all the boars to the yard

Seriously, I’m not even kidding. I drove past a very scary-sized wild boar the other night. That, is how rural I’m living! The boar looked at me and then.. ran off. But, it was still a pretty terrifying experience and now, I’m a little nervous riding around in the early hours of the morn when it’s still a little dark. Especially after my colleagues told me some boars like to charge at cars – apparently speaking of experience. The world is a scary scary place. So although the following may paint a picture of the perfect morning, in truth, I was pretty anxious inside. In saying that, my smoothie was so delicious that I found myself eating it super slowly just to make it last longer.
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Smoothie is: 1 frozen banana, 2 heaped tbsp coconut yogurt (regular yogurt works too), splash of 100% guava juice (but any fruit juice will do) and 1/4 cup of frozen blueberries.

Topping is: walnuts, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds fried in a little coconut oil and pure maple syrup.

the countdown is on!

So, it’s ten days to my 23rd birthday (I can’t believe how young I am, I feel like I’ve lived an eternity) and as a gift to myself on the day, I’ve decided to concentrate on eating super good until then. First up, breakfast.

Day 1: a simple acai bowl
1 cup of frozen blueberries
1/2 frozen banana
3/4 cup of water
2 tsp acai powder
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Day 2: light green-smoothie 
1 frozen banana
a big handful of washed lettuce
a chunk of fresh pineapple
1/2 cup of water
(To be honest, lettuce in smoothie form tastes kinda gross – spinach is much better. Ah well, lesson learnt.)
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Day 3: carrot bowl
2 small frozen bananas
1 cup of 100% carrot juice
imageDay 4: pumpkin pie
1/2 frozen banana
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup cooked pumpkin
a little honey and cinnamon
image (3)Day 5: chocolate for breakfast
2 small frozen bananas
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tbsp honey
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typhoon news and a note on minimalism

Apparently a typhoon is coming and everyone’s freaking out at school.
I’m just worried I don’t have enough food to last me the weekend… hehehe *nervous laughter*
Anywho, here’s what I had for breakfast this morning – just four ingredients (oats, cinnamon, pure maple syrup, fig). I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about how too many ingredients not only confuse the digestive system but can also lead to over eating and irrational food cravings (mostly sweets). So, I’ve decided to simplify my meals (as in breakfast, lunch and dinner). Dont worry, I shall be annoyingly kept up to date.
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a simple maple and walnut loaf (completely wholewheat, dairy and sugar free)

Guess what? Turns out the Japanese diet isn’t that healthy after all! Well, the traditional Japanese diet is. Hence the crazy high longevity rates. However; recently, things have changed. With the introduction of dairy milk and “bread” (aka white sugary rubbish which is more cake than anything) the Japanese are struggling to keep their slim physique. Seriously, my workmates are eating massive “bread” buns everyday and questioning why they’re putting on weight. Anyways, long story short, I was craving something sweet, went to the supermarket and saw that everything absolutely everything was packed with sugar and white flour. So, I baked this instead. It’s definitely a healthier alternative of store-bought cake. In fact, it’s nutritious! image[4] image[2]
2 cups all-purpose wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking soda (If you cant find all-purpose wholemeal flour, omit the baking soda and use 2 tsp of baking powder instead)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

2 free-range eggs
1/3 cup of pure maple syrup
1/3 cup of coconut oil (or other oil if you can’t afford it)
3 tbsp almond milk (or other non-dairy alternative)

Preheat oven to 180C

Mix the dry and wet ingredients together in separate bowls.

Combine the two.

Pour batter into a greased loaf tin.

Bake for 25-30 min or until the fork comes out clean.

Enjoy with yoghurt and canned fruit for optimum YUMness.